Oops! Power Turned Off Before Arctic Blast

Direct Energy reconnects power to man's Arlington duplex after billing snafu

By Omar Villafranca
|  Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 7:00 AM CDT
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Billing Mistake Almost Puts Man in the Cold

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Billing Mistake Almost Puts Man in the Cold

A billing snafu almost had an Arlington man in the cold for a blast of cold weather.
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The heat was back on in an Arlington man's home after the power company mistakenly shut off his electricity the day before a cold front was expected to blow through North Texas.

Direct Energy cut off Gary Fuller's power Wednesday morning after his payment was posted to the wrong account. When called, a company representative apologized and told him his power would be turned on in 24 hours without any extra fees.

But Fuller said the time frame was just too long.

"That's way too long, not with a cold front coming in," he said.

His arthritis flares up when the temperature dips below 40 degrees.

"I love the cold weather, but the cold weather doesn't love me," Fuller said.

But Fuller didn't have to find out how cold it would get inside his Arlington duplex. Direct Energy reconnected his power late Wednesday night after speaking with a reporter.

"We value Mr. Fuller's business and are very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused him today," said company spokeswoman Lisa Dornan. "We are still investigating the reason for the error in how Mr. Fuller's December payment was applied, and we'll be in touch with him directly once we have that information. "

The Public Utilities Commission has rules stating that power can't be shut off in extreme hot or cold conditions. For cold weather, the previous day's temperature can't exceed 32 degrees, and the temperature has to remain at 32 or below for the next 24 hours for the non-disconnect rule to apply.

Wednesday's temperature didn't meet the requirements, but Direct Energy said Thursday's temperatures will put the non-disconnect rules into effect.

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